Thomas was a lovely, sweet, homeless, mentally ill man who spread good cheer whenever her went. When news of his passing spread on the neighborhood blog there was an outpouring of stories of how Thomas had touched various people in the neighborhood. It was the internet at its most pure: no snark anywhere.
My friend Mark also lives in this neighborhood and told me there was a service planned at Star of the Sea church this evening. I made a point to go. I wondered as I approached the church if anyone would be there. I would not have been surprised to find 20 people there and that would have been lovely.
But I was wrong. I don't know why I underestimated my neighbors or the effect that Thomas had on them. There were HUNDREDS of people there. The large church was full and there were people standing.
Folks brought food donations for the local food bank and donated to a collection to get Thomas a burial and headstone. He was a good man and a member of our community and we were there to take care of him. It was so heartwarming, especially on the eve of this very contentious election.
The priest talked about homelessness being the lack of a shelter, which was certainly true for Thomas, but he was not lacking a home. He was at home in our neighborhood under the trees. He was one of us.
After the mass I walked over to the reception with Mark and his wife Pat. Pat said that though she was impressed and moved by the turnout, she felt a little let down because she thought they had a special relationship with Thomas. I felt the exact same way.
The truth is, we did have a special relationship. Each of us. All of us.
I feel very proud of my neighborhood. But in reality it was Thomas who did it. He was just the embodiment of goodness and shared it with us, his "family." We were all richer for having known him.
Godspeed to a good man.